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Boston University Arts & Sciences

CAS News: December 2009

Finding Pharaoh’s Ships

Five years ago, Kathryn Bard made a remarkable discovery in the Egyptian desert. While digging with an archaeological team along the Red Sea coast, she reached into the opening of a wall — and felt nothing. Further excavation revealed an ancient man-made cave containing a mud brick, a small grinding stone, shell beads, and part of a box. The team discovered seven caves at Wadi Gawasis containing relics dating back 4,000 years. The first pieces ever recovered from Egyptian seagoing vessels, they offer a tantalizing glimpse into an elaborate network of Red Sea trade.

Bard's finds garnered significant international attention. The finds led to a special exhibition opening at the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, early this year, which Bard will curate, titled "Mersa/Wadi Gawasis: A Pharaonic Harbor on the Red Sea." In addition, some of the film "Building Pharaoh's Ship," which was shown recently on NOVA/PBS, was made at the Mersa/Wadi Gawasis excavations.

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Humanities Foundation Awards 2010/11 Fellowships

The Executive Committee of the Boston University Humanities Foundation has announced the list of Fellows for next year. Speaking on behalf of the committee, Foundation Director James Winn praised the quality of proposals considered this year. "We are delighted to be giving more fellowships for next year than in any previous year of the Foundation's existence," said Winn, "but we remain committed to increasing our endowment so that we can give more fellowships in the future."

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Religion Dept. Launches New Program on Cultural Judaism

The Department of Religion is pleased to announce the launch of "The Other Within: Jewish Secularization," a multi-year program funded by a grant from the Center for Cultural Judaism/ Posen Foundation. The program will consist of three interrelated courses, beginning Fall 2010: "The Modern Jew" (the core course), "The Political Jew," and "The Heretical Jew," to be co-taught by Michael Zank, Abigail Gillman, and Adam Seligman. Beginning Spring 2010, the program will also sponsor lectures, symposia, and seminars on topics in cultural Judaism for the wider BU community. Information about "The Other Within" and secular Judaism are available on the program's blog.

Moving Mountains in Honduras

Students from Arts & Sciences returned recently from a successful trip to help low-income residents of Honduras. In what has become an annual excursion, the BU Global Water and Medical Brigades returned from the Central American country in early January. The Water Brigade, which is organized by students, included many Arts & Sciences students as well as students from other schools at the University. History Professor Cathal Nolan joined the group as faculty advisor. The team built a small dam high up in the mountains in one of the remotest and poorest parts of the country. They also constructed a pipeline to carry potable water down to a treatment tank and delivery system for a village of 700.

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Introductory Global Language Courses
Open to All

Interested in learning a new language, but not able or ready to enroll in a regular course? The Department of Modern Languages & Comparative Literature is sponsoring a fun way to learn basic conversational and cultural skills. "Globally Speaking" offers the BU community free, non-credit introductory courses in Turkish, Arabic, Wolof, Chinese, Persian, Russian, and Hausa. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome. Sessions began January 25 and run through March 24. No pre-registration necessary, but to save a seat register here. For additional information, contact Giselle Khoury.

Course Evaluations

The course evaluation process for the spring semester is already underway. The key forthcoming deadlines are:

Thursday, February 25
Enrollment data due in Faculty Actions.

Wednesday, March 3
All updates or spreadsheet changes due.

Wednesday, March 31 (tentative)
Course evaluations ready for pick-up in Faculty Actions.

Tuesday, May 25 (tentative)
Completed evaluations due in Faculty Actions.

Please contact Charlie Pollack if you have any questions about course evaluations.

Thought for the Day: The Personal Challenges Students Face

For insight into students' emotional health, check out the article from Inside Higher Education titled "Looking for Help," based on the results of the National Survey of Counseling Center Directors. These centers are seeing an increase in students visiting them for a range of problems from learning disabilities to dealing with past experiences of abuse to current issues involving eating disorders, psychiatric meds issues, self-injury, sexual assault, and other issues requiring intervention.

The issue for faculty and advisors is that these personal challenges that students face are likely to affect their academic work and their ability to become well-integrated into the university community. How, if at all, should faculty and academic advisors take this knowledge into account, both in terms of our work with students in general, and with particular individuals? Academic reactions range from, "They'll have to learn to deal, and their private lives aren't my business, so let them tough it out or seek help elsewhere" to "It's my job to make sure my teaching incorporates and specifically responds to the special needs of each of my students." Most of us probably find the balance in the middle. But the question merits reflection by everyone who works with students.


Professor of International Relations BILL GRIMES' book Currency and Contest in East Asia has won the 2010 Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Award. The award is targeted at outstanding books in the fields of politics, economics, culture, and science and technology that contribute to the development of the concept of “Pacific Basin Community.” The award is typically given to 5-6 books in total, half of them written by non-Japanese authors. In most years, that translates into one English-language book in the field of political science. Masayoshi Ohira himself was the last prime minister of the 1980s, a former diplomat and foreign minister who had a deep interest in Pacific Basin cooperation.

The University of California Press recently published a book by Professor of Art History PATRICIA HILLS titled Painting Harlem Modern: The Art of Jacob Lawrence. On January 9, Professor Hills held a book signing party at the D.C. Moore Gallery in New York, which is currently exhibiting Lawrence’s work.

The Mu2e experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab outside Chicago, which is co-led by CAS Professor of Physics JAMES MILLER, was recently granted CD-0 status by the Department of Energy (DOE). This status means that the DOE has approved the mission of the experiment, the first step in a five-step process ending with completion of the construction. This $200M experiment will search for a “forbidden” process where the muon, a heavy version of the electron, turns into an electron, with no other particles emitted. While forbidden in the standard theory, physicists believe that new, as yet undiscovered forces such as “supersymmetry” could cause such a transition. This experiment is complementary to efforts at the new Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, where several other members of the BU Physics Department are working.

World Scientific recently published Lepton Dipole Moments, a book edited by Professor of Physics LEE ROBERTS along with William Marciano. Lepton Dipole Moments is a collection of articles on the theory and measurements of the magnetic dipole moments of the electron, and its heavier brother the muon, along with the theory and searches for permanent electric dipole moments of the electron, proton, and atomic nuclei.

Professor of Physics GENE STANLEY recently received a commendation from the president of the National Academy of Sciences for his service on the Committee on Rapid Prototyping in Support of Counterterrorism, thanking him for his “specialized knowledge that he contributed to the nation.”

Upcoming Meetings and Events

Regular CCD meeting cancelled.
The following groups will meet at 4:00 instead:

Humanities Chairs and Directors:
CAS 132

Directors Undergraduate Studies:
CAS 200

Directors of Graduate Studies:
CAS 116

Academic Policy Committee (Tentative)
4 p.m., CAS 200

President’s Day—Classes Suspended

Arts & Sciences Faculty Meeting and Sherry Hour
4 p.m., CAS 522 (meeting), CAS 106 (sherry hour)

External Activity Reports Due
Please submit reports online.

Faculty Annual Reports Due
Please submit online through the Faculty Link.

CCD Meeting
4 p.m., CAS 132

Summer Term appointment papers, final salary sheets due
Please contact Bonnie Steyer with any questions.

MARCH 8-12
Spring Break

Arts & Sciences Faculty Meeting and Sherry Hour
Discussion of CAS Strategic Plan
4 p.m., CAS 522

Sherry hour
CAS 106

Faculty Assembly
3:30 p.m., Tsai Center

Reappointment papers for full-time faculty due in Faculty Actions

Secondary (administrative) appointment papers for 2010/2011 due in Faculty Actions

Initial requests to conduct faculty searches during 2010/2011 due in Faculty Actions

Tentative due date for Spring 2010 mid-tenure reviews

Chairs' Calendar

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